Authenticity at Work: Finding the Balance Between Genuine and Professional – Eat Your Career

In the modern workplace, “authenticity” has become a bit of a buzzword. The drive to be our “true selves” at work is a direct response to the robotic corporate personas that previously dominated office culture. However, as much as authenticity is championed, it’s important to recognize that there’s a fine line we have to walk. My motto is: Bring the real you to the workplace, but not necessarily ALL of you.

I know that sounds weird so let me explain…

To me, authenticity at work is about bringing forth the aspects of your personality that support and align with the needs of your role, the culture of our organization, and the dynamics of your team. It’s totally normal to have a work persona that’s a more polished, refined version of “you,” which may be quite different from the “you” who hangs out with your friends and family on weekends. This doesn’t mean you’re being fake; rather, you’re choosing the parts of yourself that contribute most effectively to your work environment.

Bringing your entire life into the office can be distracting and disruptive. Politics, religion, and personal drama have no place at work. That might sound old fashioned to some, but it’s still a best practice for good reason. Yes, diversity of thought and background enriches the workplace, but there’s a time and place for everything. Your work persona should focus on the qualities that help you and your team thrive: reliability, cooperation, skill, and professionalism.

Having a work persona doesn’t negate authenticity. Both your professional and personal personas are facets of who you really are, just presented in different contexts. At work, it’s about harnessing the part of your identity that helps you perform your job well, while also respecting the varied beliefs and backgrounds of others.

To navigate this balance:

  • Reflect on Your Core Values: Determine which aspects of your personality are most important to your sense of self and make sure you’re in a working environment where those things are welcomed and respected.
  • Establish Boundaries: Decide which parts of your personal life should remain private and be consistent with these boundaries.
  • Communicate Effectively: Share personal insights and stories that have direct relevance to your work or can inspire and motivate your colleagues.
  • Be Respectful of Others: Recognize that your co-workers will also have different levels of comfort when it comes to sharing personal details and allow everyone to find their own authentic balance.
  • Embrace Your Professional Role: Understand that professionalism doesn’t conflict with authenticity; it’s about showing respect for the job and the people you work with.

Authenticity at work is about being true to yourself in a way that’s appropriate and respectful of the professional setting. It’s about integrating your genuine self with the role you play at work to create a harmonious and productive environment. By finding the right balance, you can be an authentic and valued member of your workplace without oversharing or overstepping professional boundaries.

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